Christmas in the Philippines is a big deal! The Philippines have the largest Christian population in Asia. Therefore, Christmas is one of the biggest holidays there. The people in the Philippines start celebrating Christmas in September. Shops begin selling Christmas decorations and playing Christmas songs.
Parol (Christmas Lantern) is probably the most common Christmas decoration in the Philippines. Belen, or nativity scenes, are another common Christmas decoration. Belen are found in every home, church, and shopping center in the Philippines. In addition to these Christmas symbols, Filipinos have other Christmas traditions, including:
- Christmas Party
In the major cities in Philippines, many people hold Christmas parties. They often include a music or drama performance, fireworks, and games. The cities are also decorated with Christmas decorations. Filipinos say “Merry Christmas” to everyone they met on the street, from shopkeepers to taxi drivers, friends and strangers. Taxi and peddycab drivers usually give a small gift to their customers and asked them for 10-20 pesos in exchange for their gift.
- Noche Buena (Midnight Party)
Noche Buena is a midnight party after the Christmas Eve service. This party is an open house party for family, friends or neighbors. Whoever holds the party provides typical Christmas food, such as:
* Christmas Ham, which can be made from pork or chicken. Normally, it has a pineapple sauce. They usually enjoy this ham with bread and Kesong Puti (goat cheese).
* Sweet Spaghetti is a must for any Christmas dinner. This spaghetti has tomato sauce, ground beef or pork, and a little sugar.
* Lechon is a roasted pig that is known as the “star of the Christmas party.”
* Bibingka and Puto, these two foods are often bought at stalls as people leave Christmas Eve mass. Bibingka is a sweet rice cake baked in banana leaves. Puto is purple rice cooked inside a bamboo tube, similar to lontong in Indonesia.
- Simbang Gabi / Misa de Gallo (Night Mass)
Because nearly 80% of the Philippines is Catholic, there is a Christmas Mass every day from December 16 until December 24. The mass, called Simbang Gabi, usually begins at 3 am. After Mass is over, people usually eat together.
- Christmas Carol
Many children in the Philippines form small groups and go from house to house singing Christmas carols. One of the most common carols is Maligayang Pasko.
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